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Laschi, Luisa

The Grove Book of Opera Singers

Christopher Raeburn

Laschi, Luisa [ Luisa Mombelli] 

(b Florence, 1760s; d c1790).

Italian soprano. Her first known appearances were in 1782 in Vicenza and Bologna. She made her Viennese début on 24 September 1784 in Domenico Cimarosa's Giannina e Bernardone. The Wiener Kronik said: ‘she has a beautiful clear voice, which in time will become rounder and fuller; she is very musical, sings with more expression than the usual opera singers and has a beautiful figure! Madam Fischer (Storazi [i.e. Nancy Storace]) has only more experience, and is otherwise in no way superior to Dem Laschi’. On 21 January 1785 Laschi replaced Storace, who was about to give birth, as Rosina in Giovanni Paisiello's Il barbiere di Siviglia ‘very well, and was much applauded’ (Karl von Zinzendorf). She left at Easter for an engagement in Naples – where she met her future husband, the tenor Domenico Mombelli – but returned to Vienna at Easter 1786. There, on 1 May 1786, she created the role of the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro. She had a further success on 15 May in Pasquale Anfossi's Il trionfo delle donne. On 1 August she appeared, probably for the first time in Vienna with Mombelli, in Giuseppe Sarti's I finti eredi. On 29 September the emperor wrote to his chamberlain, Count Rosenberg, with a jocular reference to Figaro: ‘The marriage between Laschi and Mombelli may take place without waiting for my return, and I cede to you le droit de Seigneur’. In November 1786 she created the role of Queen Isabella in Vicente Martín y Soler's Una cosa rara, and in 1787 created Cupid in his L'arbore di Diana, a role that required her to appear alternately as a shepherdess and as Cupid. A contemporary reviewer described her portrayal: ‘Grace personified …; ah, who is not enchanted by it, what painter could better depict the arch smile, what sculptor the grace in all her gestures, what singer could match the singing, so melting and sighing, with the same naturalness and true, warm expression?’

In January 1788 she appeared in the première of Antonio Salieri's Axur re d'Ormus and in May sang Zerlina in the first Vienna performance of W.A. Mozart's Don Giovanni; Mozart composed a new duet to be sung by her and Francesco Benucci. She was already seven months pregnant but continued singing until the day before her confinement and reappeared four weeks later. But there were difficulties between the Italian company and the management, and the emperor gave the Mombellis notice. In September Luisa created the role of Carolina in Salieri's Il talismano and in February 1789 she made her farewell appearance as Donna Farinella in L'ape musicale; nothing further seems to be known about her, but in 1791 Domenico, apparently a widower, married the ballerina Vincenza Viganò, by whom he had 12 children.


D. Link: The National Court Theatre in Mozart's Vienna: Sources and Documents 1783–1792 (Oxford, 1998)Find this resource:

    Christopher Raeburn